The FAA has determined that expired navigation databases do not meet the definition of “inoperative equipment.” Therefore, they are not authorized for Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) relief.
This determination was published in June as Notice N8900.424, with the subject, "Master Minimum Equipment List Policy Letter 98 (PL-98), Revision 1, Navigation Databases, and Associated Aviation Safety Inspector Requirements."
"PL-98 Rev 0 provided standardized MMEL relief for out-of-currency navigation databases, but PL-98 Rev 1 prohibits MMEL relief for expired NDBs and instead provides relief only for inoperative NDBs," said Tom Atzert, president of Leading Edge ATS and co-chair of the MMEL Industry Group. "FAA Notice N8900.424 requires operators to revise their [minimum equipment lists] in accordance with PL-98, Rev 1 within 180 days, and stipulates that all aircraft MMELs must be revised in accordance with PL-98, Rev 1 within two years."
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) noted Wednesday that the notice allows operators to develop alternative procedures for dispatch with expired navigation databases by making them a part of another operational manual. It must be done, NBAA continued, in conjunction with operator minimum equipment list revisions. This ensures that a methodology for dispatching aircraft with expired databases remains available.
“It is a misconception that the new policy prohibits flying with an expired database,” said Brian Koester, NBAA manager of operations. “In fact, InFO 17007 explains that operators can continue to compare the installed navigation database to current charts for the route of flight, just like they were doing under the old [minimum equipment list] procedures. The difference now is that this procedure needs to be moved to the general operations manual, aircraft flight manual, quick reference handbook, pilot operating handbook or flight operations manual. Each operator can work with their principal operations inspector to decide where it fits best.”